Hermann Hesse’s involvement with the psychology of C.G. Jung begins in spring of 1916 when the writer has a nervous breakdown and subsequently undergoes a course of psychotherapy with J.B. Lang, a member of C.G. Jung’s staff. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 1

Yesterday, evening, Dr. Jung telephoned me from Zurich … and invited me to the hotel for dinner. I accepted, and was with him until around eleven.  My opinion of him changed several times during the course of this first meeting, his confidence having appealed to me very early on but then having put me off, yet my impression on the whole was a very positive one. ~Hermann Hesse, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 1

The strong impression Jung made on him is no doubt the reason why Hesse sought therapeutic assistance from the master himself during the next crisis in his life, his divorce from his first wife and the writer’s block he suffered from during the writing of Siddhartha. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 1

Here with Jung, I am currently, while going through a difficult, and often almost unbearable, period of my life, experiencing the shock of analysis … It shakes you to the very core and is painful. But it helps …. All I can say is that Dr. Jung is conducting my analysis with extraordinary skill – ingenuity, even. ~Hermann Hesse, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 1

He therefore goes on to write his three major novels Demian, Siddhartha, and Der Steppenwolf, successively written works that were closely linked to Jungian psychotherapy, and in which Hesse uses his experiences of psychotherapy, and the impression he gained from reading to give motivational and compositional structure to his own writings.  ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 2

Jung’s teaching furnishes him with the key to the central message of his works from Demian on: the identity of self-awareness and awareness of God. Yet Hesse would, in Jung’s psychology of religion, appear to have found merely confirmation and legitimation of his own religious experiences and awareness, rather than having obtained any new inspiration. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 2

 

Yet Jung’s theory of the animus also plays a certain, albeit subaltern, role in Hesse’s work. Now old, Kamela meets her former lover Siddhartha while searching for the enlightened Buddha, and recognizes that the former is now on a par with the celebrated founder of the religion. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

For me personally, analysis had only a beneficial effect, yet more in the shape of a few books by Jung and Freud I read than in the actual practical analysis. Later, my relationship to psychoanalysis cooled off somewhat, partly because I got to see many cases of unsuccessful, or even harmful, analysis, yet in part, too, because I never met an analyst who had any genuine relationship to art. All in all, however, my relationship to depth psychology remains an amicable one. ~Hermann Hesse, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 3

Additionally, Hesse incorporated a whole series of individual Jungian motifs into his narrative works. This is especially true of Demian, which Hesse wrote in 1917 towards the end of the eighteen-month analysis with J.B. Lang, and in which he processed his experiences of psychotherapy and the fruits of his readings of Jung’s writings.  ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

The message of Abraxas, for example, the god in whom the Devil is also present, derives from the private print published by Jung in 1916, Septem sermones ad mortuos, in which he speaks of this gnostic deity in hymnal language. The same is true of Demian’s reinterpretation of the myth of Cain and the story of the thieves on Mount Golgotha, which also derive from gnostic thought. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

Diary entries of Hesse’s that were discovered only recently prove that the “gnostic” is a subject that was discussed during his first meeting with Jung in 1917. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

Other motifs in Demian probably have their root in Hesse’s reading of Jung’s Symbols of Transformation.  ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

In Demian, furthermore, Jung’s concept of the “individuation process” – with its characteristic steps from initial suffering via the projection of archetypes in certain figures through to the return of the projections in the sequence shadow, anima, self – is executed in virtually textbook fashion. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4-5

 

It was no accident that C.G. Jung, after reading the book, wrote an enthusiastic letter to Hesse and had the book added to the library of his institute in Zurich.  ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 5

Demian ends with an exemplary Jungian individuation process in the shape of the self-discovery and autonomy of the protagonist Sinclair.  ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 5

Those who have been able to penetrate through to the self, says Jung, will feel drawn to their fellow humans as they will be aware of the general human dimensions of their collective unconscious. It will be fully apparent to them that all other people are only images of their own psychic potentials. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 7-8

So what precise influence did Jungian psychology have on Hesse’s writings? Striking in the first instance is the fact that Hesse addresses Jung’s theory of archetypes in a whole series of works, transforming them in his own characteristic fashion in the process. The archetype of the “shadow,” for example, first appears in Demian in the form of the sadistic street urchin Kromer, to whom the protagonist Sinclair feels darkly drawn, and which he later recognizes to be part of himself. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 3

In the novella Klein and Wagner, the civil servant Friedrich Klein grasps that, behind his strait-laced exterior, there lurks the urge to become a playboy and murderer, and gives this shadowy side of his personality the name “Wagner.” The philosopher and redemption-seeker Siddhartha encounters his shadow as drinker, gambler, and grasping businessman during his worldly period. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 3

In Der Steppenwolf, Harry Haller has to realize that, behind his high-minde d definition of himself, lurks a beast-like creature, that only “wants to range solitarily across steppes, to occasionally drink blood or stalk a she-wolf.” Even in the case of the apparently harmless Don Juan and artist Goldmund, the shadow erupts into periodic violence and two murders. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 3

In Demian, it is – in analogy to Dante’s Divine Comedy – first the girl Beatrice who wrenches the boy Sinclair from the grip of depression and leads him from “inferno” to “paradiso.” He later realizes that the passionately admired woman Eva is, in the Jungian sense, only a “symbol of his inner being,” and experiences, through the exploding shell projected into her, a visionary rebirth. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 3

Under the influence of his anima, in the form of his lover Kamala, Siddhartha is transformed, as described by Jung, from an abstract man of mind and intellect into a sensuous man of the world. In Der Steppenwolf, the very name Hermine, the feminized form of the writer’s first name, is a reference to its classic anima function. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

It leads Harry Haller, a cerebralized, desperate man unable to cope with life and on the brink of suicide, back into life and into love. In Narziss und Goldmund, too, the Jungian anima concept also still features prominently when Hesse cites as motive for Goldmund’s Casanova-like behaviour the search for the “eternally maternal,” and also associates his ambivalent interpretation of life with the mother archetype. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

Symbols of the self are a further leitmotif-like element featuring in Hesse’s novels, from Demian through to Das Glasperlenspiel. In Demian, it is the hero of the title himself who, in his intellectual precociousness, agelessness, and androgynous nature, embodies the desired oneness of the self in the sense intended by Jung. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

In Siddhartha, meanwhile, it is again the hero of the title himself, and the old ferryman Vasudeva, who achieve the goal of complete self-awareness as defined by Jung. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

The motif of the river crossing, for example, as symbol of a fundamental transformation of the personality in Siddhartha and in Narziss and Goldmund, features prominently, and is at the same time broadly developed in Jung’s Symbols of Transformation. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

When Harry Haller is taught, in the Treatise On The Steppenwolf, that he consists not of just two but of an infinite number of dispositions and opposing pairs of poles, it is Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious that serves as theoretical base. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

…it is precisely in Steppenwolf that the Jungian concept of the individuation process is most clearly revealed. Harry Haller’s task is that of overcoming the dualism between his cultural ego and his shadow in the form of the Steppenwolf, to acknowledge his anima, as embodied by Hermine and Goethe, Mozart and Pablo, as the symbol of his own self, and to thus realize the manifold nature of his inner being. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 4

 

It may therefore be said that Der Steppenwolf, together with Demian, is the work most strongly influenced by Jungian psychology and one that, without this intellectual foundation, can be neither understood in terms of its genesis nor adequately comprehended. ~Günter Baumann, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 5

 Stages

As every flower fades and as all youth

Departs, so life at every stage,

So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,

Blooms in its day and may not last forever.

Since life may summon us at every age

Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,

Be ready bravely and without remorse

To find new light that old ties cannot give.

In all beginnings dwells a magic force

For guarding us and helping us to live.  ~Hermann Hesse, 9th International Hesse Colloquium in 1997, Page 8-9

 

 

 

 

 

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